Earnhardts Season Is Cookin

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The freshness of an off-weekend is plenty reason for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser Race Team to smile, but not the only reason.

Besides being the only driver to record top-five finishes in the first two NASCAR Nextel Cup races and maintaining a slim lead in the championship pointstandings, Junior has broken into a fraternity that he's sure to never leave. It's the fraternity of gas grill owners.

"I never knew how good steaks taste when you cook 'em on a gas grill," Dale Jr. said. "My George Foreman grill got rained on at Daytona, so I cooked my steak on Michael (Waltrip'sd) gas grill, and it was the best steak I ever had. I don't mean to knock George Foreman because I've always liked him as a boxer, but last week at Rockingham I went out and bought me a grill like Michael's."

With his new gas grill in tow, Dale Jr. heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he finished second to Matt Kenseth last year. Dale Jr. has led laps in each of his four races at Las Vegas. Only Mark Martin, who has raced in all six events at the 1.5-mile track, has led more.

"Man, the off week was cool, but I've already gotten the itch to get back to the track and go racin' again," Earnhardt said. "We did a few media deals last Monday, and I pretty much had the rest of the week to chill out with my friends. It was cool finishing as well as we did at Rockingham, because it sets the mood you're gonna be in for the next couple of days. It feels good to get that race out of the way and go to a place where we've had some success at."

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